Moor Litter

We are, I reckon, often tempted to think that the problem of litter is restricted to urban areas and roadside verges. After all, we often refer to “dropping litter in the street” as if that is where, and only where, people drop litter. And how many of us drive anywhere these days without having to endure the sight of the verges of roads, dual carriageways and motorways disfigured to a greater or lesser degree by the multi-coloured spectacle of littered drinks containers, fast food packaging and sweet wrappers ?

So it’s rather depressing to hear about an area of immense natural beauty being similarly disfigured. Dartmoor National Park Authority recently announced that it is costing more than £20,000 a year to clear up all the plastic bottles and fizzy drink cans that are left behind by visitors.

And it’s not just the financial cost that is alarming. In fact Dartmoor NPA say that the quoted cost of £20.000 doesn’t even include the staff cost of rubbish collection, so the actual cost is much higher and could better be spent, you would think, on employing extra staff to help maintain that marvellous national park.

But what puzzles me is the fact that, unless I have seriously missed the point, people go to places like Dartmoor to enjoy the wonderful scenery and terrain while they walk, cycle, run, ride a horse or whatever they do. How can such people not feel that a littered area detracts from their enjoyment of the place ?

One local resident commented : “It’s disgraceful. We can’t believe that people have left it like this. We came down two weeks ago and it was horrendous. There was a massive build-up by the car park”.

By the car park ?? So it’s not even a question necessarily of the majority of litter being dropped in the middle of people’s walks/runs/rides. Perhaps the litterers would claim that the litter bins in the car park were full and so they couldn’t use them. OK – even if that was the case, how about taking the litter home in your car ?

On a loosely-related point, someone remarked to me recently how irritating they found it to see so many of those high-energy gel wrappers discarded on the side of the road, usually dropped by cyclists who are also busy enjoying the peace and beauty of the countryside. Don’t they connect the dropping of litter with the diminution of the beauty of the very area that they are enjoying ?

So I think that it is time that we went back to the drawing-board and had a good think about how to stop people littering in such areas of natural magnificence. If we can’t get the message across to them, then what hope is there for preventing litter being dropped in places which don’t have such natural appeal ?

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